A Letter from the Executive Director: Where the Money Comes From—It Matters

By Barbara A. Brenner

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a decision giving corporations free reign to try to buy American elections. People can disagree—and will—about the role of money in politics. But in the politics of health, I believe that the adverse influence of corporate money has been revealed in too many ways to ignore.

Whether it’s pharmaceutical companies paying doctors to promote their drugs, or health insurance companies developing patient groups to promote how wonderful their services are, if you don’t follow the money in health, you won’t be able to tell what’s going on.

That’s one of the reasons BCA adopted in 1998 a policy on corporate contributions that makes very clear what kind of corporate funding we will—and won’t—accept.

We adopted this policy not because corporate money is bad, but because we want people to understand that corporate interests have absolutely no bearing on any of our positions. We also know that how we are funded has an impact on our coalition efforts, since there are corporations that have undermined the health of poor communities for many years by their manufacturing or marketing strategies.

While you may not agree with BCA’s positions, you will never have to wonder whether we believe what we are saying. We can and do come to our own conclusions, because no corporation that conflicts with our principles is influencing our positions.

In many ways BCA’s corporate contributions policy is a great strength—after all, it reflects the organization’s integrity and allows us to fulfill our role as the watchdogs of the breast cancer movement. It is also a great challenge because we have to fund this work without just taking a big check from a pharmaceutical company.

Instead, we rely on people like you for most of our funding. After all, if we’re doing a job that the community thinks is important, they will fund it. If community members think we don’t provide a needed service, we shouldn’t exist.

This is what we mean when we say that we absolutely couldn’t do it without you—in so many ways.

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